Fashion is only fashion until it goes out of date. The very definition of the word is ‘that which is the latest style’. The consequence of not wearing the latest outfit or hairstyle is not life-changing (for most people). You might miss out on being featured in Vogue magazine. But the worst you are likely to encounter is ridicule from friends, something I am all too familiar with!

“One should not bother to protect that which dies the minute it is born.”

Coco Chanel

In other areas of life, being out of date could be a little more serious. Missing your vehicle’s service routine can lead to catastrophic damage if your cam-belt fails. Eating yoghurt with a month old use-by date is likely to cause gut ache at best. Missing your HRMC self-assessment deadline is going to hurt your bank balance.

When it comes to preventing homelessness, providing outdated advice can also lead to serious consequences. Some of the people we are advising are understandably very vulnerable. They are often in crisis, with limited time to make life-changing decisions. Incorrect advice does not only have a detrimental effect on the customer, we put our own reputation at risk too.

Shopping trip

The challenge is that it is really difficult to keep advice up-to-date. Advisors are dealing with such a wide array of information, including:

  • Legislation
  • Government guidance
  • Council policy
  • Best-practice recommendations (from organisations like Shelter and Crisis)
  • Local information (e.g. rough sleeper helpline, drop-in times)

All of these are subject to change, and usually do (sometimes frequently)!

Updated advice needs testing to ensure it is compatible with any related information; it is easy to read and understandable for the customer; it is helping the customer to resolve their own situation; and, it is consistent across all advice channels (including partners and online sources).

This can lead to a lot of dedicated resource just to ensure advice is correct even before it’s issued.

Tapping into reliable and knowledgeable sources can help keep you informed of developments. Some good examples include:

Twitter and LinkedIn are also useful tools for keeping an eye on developments. Most of the above examples have dedicated Twitter feeds. Check out who they are following, liking and retweeting for more.

Personal shopper

There is an easier way. The content of AdviceAid is written by a team of legal experts. Being knowledgeable on the latest housing advice is their bread and butter – and they are very good at it! Their fully-tested updates are automatically pushed out to all users free of charge. You will always be using the latest information.

Built into AdviceAid is a really simple way of updating local information (e.g. the Citizen’s Advice helpline). You can quickly review where local information is needed, completed or requires updating. Make one change, and all connected advice is updated across all your channels. Simple!

Don’t be a local authority that looks like it’s still stuck in the 90s. Embrace the digital advice revolution – it’s the must-have look for your service!

Find out here how AdviceAid can help you deliver quality, tailored advice, every time.

Peter McGuire is Co-Founder and CEO of AdviceAid. He has worked in housing services for over 15 years in the private, voluntary and public sectors. He is an incessant problem-solver and has been at the forefront of leading a number of innovative local authority programmes to improve the quality of advice services. Peter usefully has a degree in computer science.

Connect with Peter on LinkedIn and Twitter